WHEN Nicole Rahimi and Sarah Hewitt were sent to welcome London Marathon runners home last year, they did not imagine it would be them crossing the line on Sunday.

They work as a PA and administrator for Oxford charity The Art Room, which has five runners in the race each year.

Mrs Rahimi, 37, from Iffley, said: “We were part of the committee to thank the runners for supporting us last year.

“All of the charity runners were coming back clearly in pain, but all with huge smiles on their faces.”

Encouraged, the pair signed up for their own slots in this year’s race.

Mrs Hewitt, 45, from Kidlington, said: “It really motivates and inspires you. It gives a purpose to the whole thing.

“It’s really nice working for the charity, because I know exactly how that money’s needed.”

The Art Room works with vulnerable children in Oxfordshire to increase their self-esteem through art.

Mrs Hewitt added: “It’s much harder than I anticipated, especially fitting it around families and work.

“The biggest hurdle was the rain and weather during the winter months, which is actually the peak of your training.”

Mrs Rahimi said: “I can safely say I hated running before this, but we followed our training plan and took it step by step.

“I’m nervous, really nervous, but excited that the day is so close.

“Each little sniffle, tickle in the throat or pain makes you really worry.”

Mrs Hewitt and Mrs Rahimi are aiming to raise a grand total of £4,000.

Oxford Mail:

NOT only is Andrew Nex running the London Marathon on Sunday, he’s also taking on the Edinburgh Marathon next month.

The Oxford father is taking on the dual marathons to raise money in memory of his late wife, Hilary, pictured, who died on Christmas Day 2010.

Mr Nex, 43, said: “It was a very sudden cancer in her abdomen, she was only ill for a month.”

As well as raising money for Cancer Research UK, Mr Nex is running for Widowed and Young (WAY).

The Headington resident said: “They were a huge support to me and my daughter Becky, who was only two when Hilary died.

“It’s nice to have a support group who know what you’re going through. Friends and family are wonderful, but they don’t always understand.

“We help one another out through social events, holidays and online forums, and we have a lot of fun.

“It’s great for Becky as well. Maybe not now, she’s only five, but when she’s older she’ll really appreciate having friends who also lost a parent when they were young.”

Mr Nex is hoping to raise at least £1,750, and has already raised over £1,000.

Oxford Mail:

AFTER marathon days of lessons in the classroom, one Wantage teacher is set to take on the ultimate running challenge with the London Marathon.

Mum-of-two Sarah McNaught, who works at Stockham Primary School, said: “I’ve always wanted to run the London Marathon.

“I have entered the ballot to get a place in the marathon for the last three or four years. I was lucky enough to get a place this year.”

Mrs McNaught, 45, will be running for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, as her cousin Tim Wootton, who lives in London, suffers from the illness.

She said: “When he was born they didn’t think he would see his 20s, but now he’s 43 and is married and has his own little boy.

“That’s just because of all the money that has been raised for the trust to go for research and treatment.”

She said: “Last week was the last day of term, and everyone at school came in in running gear and we raised £200 from the students and £250 from the staff and parents.

“It was absolutely amazing. It makes me feel more like it’s real.”

The keen runner has already smashed her £500 target.

She said: “I’ve raised nearly £1,000.

“I’m really looking forward to it now, I’ve done all the hard work.

“I am nervous, but am looking forward to the atmosphere and the whole experience.

“I want to enjoy the day and not worry about how fast or slowly I’m going.”

  • To donate, go to uk.virginmoneygiving.com/SarahMcNaught1

Oxford Mail:

LESS than six months ago, Beverley Burcham could only run 200 yards before she was out of breath.

But on Sunday she and soldier husband Tony, 43, will be pounding the streets of London.

Mrs Burcham, a personal assistant, decided to sign up for the marathon with friends, but she was the only one to get a place. Her husband, a Warrant Officer class 2 with the Royal Logistic Corps, won a charity place and will run for St John Ambulance.

The couple, from Lambourne Crescent, Bicester, have been out on the streets in all weathers to get up to speed for the day.

Mrs Burcham, 53, said: “Tony is running at my pace.

“We were going out four times a week but we have cut that down to three to get up to 13-14 mile runs.

“It is hard work but I thought ‘what a fantastic opportunity’.”

Mrs Burcham, mum to Kieran, 16, and stepmother to Conor, 13, and Aaron,10, said the couple hoped to raise at least £1,900 for St John Ambulance.

She said: “You always get support from St John Ambulance at events. It’s always been part of our lives.

“My son used to play for Highfield Juniors and Chesterton and you saw St John Ambulance give up their time for events.

“The charity also helped out in the London bombings and work tirelessly and don’t get much recognition.”

Oxford Mail:

AS A 40th birthday present to himself, Pete Green signed up to the London Marathon.

The Bicester gym manager said: “I signed up in a fit of denial. I’m doing as much as I can this year.

“I have completed a number of different challenges, but this is the biggest one yet.

“I’ve been really training properly since January.”

Mr Green is running for JDRF, a charity that is looking for a cure for type one diabetes.

He said: “My best friend’s son, Ryan O'Connor, is diabetic. He has just turned 16 but was first diagnosed with diabetes when he was around nine.

“Despite managing his diabetes daily, he has had periods when he has been very ill and was in the children’s ward of the John Radcliffe Hospital for a week last October.

“I wanted to raise awareness and look towards supporting the charity which helps children with diabetes and helps look for a cure.

I also want to show that it is not the fault of the child or a result of being overweight or having a poor diet like type two diabetes can be.”

Mr Green is aiming to raise £1,750. He said: “Training is quite hard at times. Going out running for three hours at a time is tough.

“I’m hoping the support of my friends and family will help me get through on the day.”

Meet more of Oxfordshire’s runners in tomorrow’s Oxford Mail.
We will have full coverage of the London Marathon in Monday’s paper.
Send in your pictures of the big day to news@oxfordmail.co.uk